Influenza – “The Flu”
Influenza, also called the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It is a very unpredictable disease that can cause mild to severe illness. The flu can lead to more severe complications, such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and congestive heart failure.
How is flu spread? Flu viruses are spread from person to person mainly when infected individuals cough or sneeze. Sometimes people become infected by touching an object with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. You may be able to spread the virus to someone else at least one day before symptoms develop.
Good habits are important in helping prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – then throw the tissue away and clean your hands
Clean your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gels
Get a Flu Shot! A Flu shot each year is the best way to prevent respiratory illness and influenza. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible
Get regular exercise and eat healthy balanced meals
If you get the flu, stay home from work, school and social gatherings. This will help prevent others from catching your illness.
What to do if you get the Flu:
Stay home or away from people as much as possible if you are ill, rest, drink fluids and eat healthy. If you do need to go out, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Wear a mask if coughing and in close contact with others. The general rule is to stay home until you have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medication such as Tylenol.
What are the symptoms of the actual flu illness?
- Influenza is also commonly diagnosed by symptoms alone. Symptoms of flu usually come on quickly and can include:
- Fever (usually)
- Extreme tiredness
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Intense muscle aches/body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (more common in children)
- Severity differs from season to season as well as person to person depending on the virus, flu shot match to the illness and other medical conditions of the people.